Bella hears the Volturi brothers arguing. Caius still believes that they've been deceived while Aro assures him that the Cullens are telling the truth.
Meanwhile, the Volturi witnesses watch with confusion. Bella manages to wrap her shield around their entire group. She realizes that, when it comes to the werewolves, she only has to protect Sam, because of the pack's mental connection. "If the Alpha was inside my shield, the rest of their minds were every bit as protected as his" (37.16).
When Caius refers to the werewolves as "Children of the Moon," and claims that they've been the Volturi's enemies since the dawn of time, Edward clarifies that Sam's pack doesn't consist of real werewolves, but shape shifters. They have merely inherited the skill to transform their bodies from their fathers. Yet, they could have taken on any form, and can't infect others the way real werewolves do.
Aro keeps taking the Cullens' side against Caius. Bella surmises that it's because he knows that false charges won't help them convince their witnesses to side with them.
Caius calls forth Irina. He prompts her to make an accusation against the Cullens and their relationship with the werewolves, but she admits her mistake and says that there's no reason for the Volturi to fight the Cullens.
Caius executes her on the spot. Bella realizes that it was a strategy to ignite the fight:
He had wanted Irina's defiance… his excuse to destroy her, to ignite the violence that filled the air like a thick, combustible mist. (37.66)
As expected, Kate and Tanya charge to avenge their sister. Edward stops Tanya while Garret manages to restrain Kate, despite the volley of electric shocks she unleashes on him.
Aro asks to speak with the Cullen witnesses – another strategy, it seems. He asks Amun what he has observed about the child. Amun confirms Renesmee's growth and that she is Bella and Edward's biological child. Aro asks Amun if he thinks that Renesmee should be allowed to live and that she poses no danger, and he says yes.
Although all the witnesses affirm that Renesmee poses no threat, Aro maintains that because Renesmee is unique, there's no way of knowing how she might turn out and if she will endanger the vampire world. He adds that, with the advances in human technology, humans have the power now to destroy the vampire world if they discover its existence.
Garret steps before the Volturi witnesses. He tells them that it has become clear that the Volturi haven't come for justice, but for power. They perceive the Cullens as competition. He praises the Cullens as a real family, bound by love not power, like traditional vampire covens.
Aro asks the witnesses who they'll choose – the Volturi or the Cullens. They tell him they haven't come to fight, but to witness the truth, which is that the Cullens are innocent.
Aro admits that the Volturi are outnumbered. The rest of the Volturi guard is ready to fight, though. The brothers counsel again.
Bella is convinced that they'll decide to fight, so she tells Renesmee to leave with Jacob once the fight starts.
Edward finally learns the secret she kept from him and realizes why. He says good-bye to his daughter and to Jacob, calling him his brother and son. Everyone murmurs "good-bye" and "I love you."
All hope seems lost. Bella feels a fluttering pressure against the outside of her shield. "It's starting" (37.237).